By Oscar Pannifex (PNG Hunters media)
The PNG Hunters couldn’t reel in a fast starting Brisbane Tigers side in Round 3 of the Hostplus Cup, going down 22-12 to a Brisbane squad stacked with NRL experience at Bycroft Oval on Sunday.
The Tigers found the scoreboard early, making the most of some early field position to score through centre Bernard Gregorius. The Hunters responded well, applying pressure with their defence and working upfield effectively through the middle.On the back of this, in the 17th minute and in his debut appearance for the Hunters, halfback Jamie Mavoko orchestrated PNG’s first points with a perfectly weighted grubber kick that Rodrick Tai would fall on to score.
The Tigers hit back shortly afterwards with George Fai barging his way over the line in the 29th minute to give Brisbane a 12-6 lead going into the break.
Just as they did in the first half, the Tigers came out of the sheds quickly to score again through Gregorius right after halftime.
Making the most of their field position, Brisbane crossed once more in the 49th minute when winger Solomona Faataape scored to bring his tally to three for the year.
The Hunters would finish strongly, dominating field position and possession in the final quarter of the match.
Emmanuel Waine showed an immense display of strength to score in the 64th minute and was strong throughout, busting nine tackles and running for 112 metres in an 80 minute effort.
Although understandably disappointed, coach Matt Church said there were plenty of positives to take from the loss.
“We showed that when we hold the ball and get through our sets we can play some footy,” Church said.
“We kept ourselves in the contest and if we can execute a little better or a few calls go our way, the results will come.”
Church was also pleased with the efforts of all three Hunters debutants tonight; Jamie Mavoko, Matthew Jesse and Anthony Worot.
“I thought all our debutants gave a good account of themselves. It’s just reward for a strong pre-season and I was pleased with their efforts today,” Church said.
The Tigers boasted the experience of players who have starred in the as Gerard Beale, Fai, Marion Seve and new Melbourne Storm signing Jayden Nikorima who was the Hasting Deering player of the match.
Next week, the Hunters will again be at home, hosting Sunshine Coast Falcons for their XXXX Rivalry Round match.
The Brisbane Tigers will be at home against Ipswich Jets.